VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Improving food security and drinking water, addressing climate change, and ensuring sustainable forestry are the key points in the BC Green Party’s environmental plan, released Thursday.
“COVID-19 has made it clear how vulnerable our communities are to sudden shocks,” said Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau.
“We need to look at the changes on the horizon and make sure B.C. communities are strong enough to weather them. By taking action now, we can make ourselves resilient to the inevitable changes we will experience in the coming years, while also creating jobs and opportunities for British Columbians,” she added.
“It’s not only wildfires, but also drought, sea-level rise, and flooding. And like any crisis, these impacts will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable among us. And yet successive governments have failed to invest in measures to adapt to these threats and to keep people safe.”
Regarding food security, the Greens pledge to create a food strategy to make agriculture in the province more climate-resilient and support local agricultural producers, while decreasing reliance on import supply chains.
The strategy would provide incentives for small farms to adopt technologies to increase “low-carbon and hyperlocal farming,” as well as approve micro licenses for cannabis cultivation.
“If you’re looking at it as a value-added crop for adding some of the capacity to make revenue for farmers, and if it’s a very small amount of a crop in addition to growing the food that we very much need, it doesn’t have the same kind of environmental impacts that we’ve seen with large-scale cannabis growing operations,” Furstenau said.
The Greens would further expand land for food production, while creating a publicly owned agricultural land bank available to lease to farmers. The party also pledges to restrict foreign ownership of property in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
“We need to manage our resources for the benefit of local communities, while recognizing the vulnerabilities to a changing climate,” she said. “This way we can decrease reliance on increasingly unreliable import supply chains and increase productivity of B.C.’s richly diverse farming sector so that we are not overly reliant on an export-import model.”
Regarding climate, the Greens want to protect communities from wildfires and flooding through efforts such as removing fuel sources and restoring habitats.
End raw-log exports
For forestry, the Greens want to reinstate government authority at provincial and local levels, starting with enhancing that of district managers to refuse or amend permits.
The party also wants to reform forestry tenures and redistribute them from a few major companies and grow the proportion of those held by First Nations and community forests.
Furstenau said for too long foreign-owned multinationals have shipped minimally processed resources out of the province.
“And we suffered the environmental consequences of our model of resource extraction,” she added. “It is clear that the status quo is not working.”
The Greens would further create forester general and chief biologist positions, while adopting a wider variety of logging practices, including selective methods.
The party would immediately end the logging of old-growth forests in high-risk ecosystems.
“Apply the carbon tax to slash-pile burning to reduce carbon emissions from our forestry sector and ensure that we use residual materials,” is another part of the plan, as is ending raw log exports.
“We cannot continue to liquidate our natural resources for the benefits of shareholders of massive corporations, while continuing to lose local jobs in communities across B.C. as mills close,” Furstenau said.
Ban on fracking
The Greens also want to start a Watershed Security Fund to create jobs, while upgrading municipal infrastructure and replacing household pipes through grants and incentives.
The Green Party would also ban fracking in B.C.
“We must recognize that access to clean water is a human right and ensure B.C. communities have long-term, reliable, and equitable access to clean water,” the party says.
It adds fracking is “a chemical-intensive process that has been shown to contaminate freshwater, trigger earthquakes, leak methane, and poses an unacceptable risk to human health.”
Furstenau said access to clean water is a human right.
“And we have to ensure that B.C. communities have long-term, reliable, and equitable access to clean water.”
The provincial election is Oct. 24.